There were 4 nominees but no winner in this category in 1963 (apparently, WorldCon attendees were sick of The Twilight Zone by then; it was nominated but did not win). No award was given in 1964. In 1965, however, one of my all time favorite movies won: Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
I never really thought of this film as science fiction. It does, in the end, revolve around an unlikely bit of fictional doomsday technology, but the device is more satirical than speculative. I’ll probably have chances as we go to get into the question of what qualifies as science fiction. Either way, Dr Strangelove is a fantastic and timely comedy worthy of recognition. It’s probably obvious by now how much the Cold War dominated early 60s science fiction – we have the advent of post-apocalyptic fiction like A Canticle for Leibowitz just in time for the world to almost blow up in 1962. Dr. Strangelove takes nuclear war head on. A crazed, paranoid American air force officer launches a nuclear attack on the USSR (provoked by fluoridated water, of course) and the Russian and American governments desperately try to stop him before his actions trigger an unstoppable chain of events ending in nuclear Armageddon. Black comedy rules the day, as the film expertly satirizes the prejudices and self-serving attitudes at the heart of the Cold War mentality. Peter Sellers steals the film with three brilliant performances as a British exchange officer, the American President, and a bizarre Nazi scientist. George C. Scott is also brilliant as a dull-witted, belligerent, and paranoid military adviser. If you haven’t seen this film, go see it now (and keep in mind that it takes about half-an-hour to really get going).